A little over two weeks ago, Lisa Laflamme dropped a bombshell on Twitter about her dismissal from CTV National News. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the video. 

She announced that her 35-year long career came to a sudden close and wasn’t able to disclose any information until then. She was “blindsided and shocked” at Bell Media’s “business decision” to terminate her contract. Since the video, the country has been discussing what it is to be an ageing woman in the media landscape and the double standards that exist for men and women in that space. 

Bell Media has been accused of ageism, sexism and is one of their biggest PR blunders in recent history. Since the video, Bell Media has come out to say how they regret their handling of her dismissal and the person widely held responsible for her ousting, Micheal Melling, VP of News, has since taken leave. The public’s response has been to ensure that his leave is permanent. 

This event has been discussed widely in Canada over the past few weeks and has now gone cross-border with a recent CNN interview. With issues that have people talking, brands can find opportunity to be part of the discussion. 

It can be polarizing for some people and brands can face some backlash, especially if it doesn’t make complete sense. We had the chance to speak with Sarah Chew at CityNews about how this was an opportunity for Wendy’s Canada to take a stand against discriminatory issues and be part of the conversation. 

PR Consult Lisa Laflamme PR Crisis

According to Wendy’s Company Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, their “Work Environment Must be Free from Harassment” and in keeping with those values, “Wendy’s has long been committed to maintaining a work environment that is free of discrimination.” Their policies go on to further state that this is based upon a person’s protected status under law, including age. So while this move to change their logo from the iconic red hair to silver may seem a little off-brand for a fast-food chain, it is very much in line with their business ethics.

Their move was done in a timely manner and done tastefully (food pun intended). It was a tweeted response and not a full silver campaign across its entire organization – that would be completely off-brand and much too opportunistic. Whereas, their social media participation allows it to be part of the conversation and take a stand on issues, even in a small way, including this one.

Dove claims their most recent #keepthegrey campaign is not directly related to the Lisa Laflamme dismissal but is very much in line with their consistent campaigns around inclusion and body positivity. Adding to the conversation through social media was very much in line for the Dove brand but they can extend their commentary past this media incident, throughout their company and marketing initiatives.

Companies need to ensure their commentary make sense for their brand and how they can best be part of the conversation in an authentic way. They also need to ensure that what they are standing for is reflected in their own company behaviour and in line with their own policies. Otherwise, it is simply an inauthentic marketing ploy and not a true statement for or against an issue.